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Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Beyond the Pie Chart: New Tool for Creating Data Visualizations

raw logoFree things are good, and free things to make your job easier are even better. Density Design, a lab of the design department of the Politecnico di Milano, has released RAW, an open sourced web tool for visualizing any data you need for a story.

It’s pretty simple, although it’s not exactly for rookies (hat tip to Gigaom’s Derrick Harris for having better luck with his football diagrams!). But after refreshing my memory with their video tutorial, I was able to play around with one of their sample data sets. It’s meant to be a ‘sketching tool,’ and the results have a low-budget look, but they’re polished enough to use on any blog.

Once you plug in your data set, RAW prompts you through the next steps and you can export the final version as a vector, JSON, or PNG file an post it away. The also focus on layouts that you can’t easily make or find elsewhere — in fact, in their FAQ, they direct you here in case you really, really need a pie chart. It’s open source, so if you’re able you can go wild. And they don’t store your data, so you don’t have to worry if  you’re working with something sensitive.

All in all, it’s worth a peek and anyone who has been longing for a dendrogram of your local football league’s data — now is your time. Be patient though; it was tested in Google Chrome, and it works with some minor issues in Firefox and Safari. Let us, and them know what you think.

Do you have any other good data visualization web tools?

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Make Charts, Not a Mess: Quartz Open-Sources Chartbuilder

Today, Quartz open-sourced the code for their in-house application Chartbuilder on Github, so we can all make charts worthy of our reporting, and without driving the graphics editor insane. There’s a minor learning curve, but you don’t have to be a graphics whiz to make them.

David Yanofsky, a reporter for Quartz and the creator of the application, writes on Nieman Journalism Lab that everyone benefits: reporters become more independant in working with their own data and it makes life easier for our colleagues over at the graphics desk, who can get bogged down with requests for data visualizations.

The charts are easily customizable to match any newsroom’s standards, they provide ‘immediate visual feedback’ so you don’t have to update and preview to make sure you didn’t mess anything up, and you can work on them offline if you download the source code. Most importantly, it’s simple. Yanofsky writes:

A reporter’s understanding of an image file is exponentially higher than a reporter’s understanding of an iframe embed code snippet. Content management systems’ understanding of an image file is exponentially higher than a CMS’s understanding of an iframe embed.

You can get started right now, and if you are one of those reporters who starts zoning as soon as you hear “source code,” bring it to a developer in the newsroom. They’ll probably thank you.

 

The New York Times Releases New Tool For Collaborative Editing

As more news organizations move toward web content systems that were originally intended for single-person bloggers, the need for a more dynamic tool has becoming increasingly apparent. The New York Times recognizes this and has launched some code that could help. Called ICE (“Integrated Content Editor”), the tool lets collaborators of a web-based text document track changes from multiple users.

In the demo, you can select different users from a dropdown to see their various contributions and deletions in the document. You can toggle between showing/hiding changes.

Read more

Three Open Source Timeline Tools And Thoughts On The Future Of News Timelines

We’ve long-touted Dipity as a great tool for making timelines, but the days of free, online tools are quickly being replaced by an era of free open-source tools.  While Dipity is still great if you want an easy-to-use interface and are willing to shell out $50/month for unlimited use, open source timelines give you ultimate control and ownership of your content. Read more

ProPublica’s TimelineSetter: A Wonky Yet Powerful Tool

Timelines are an effective storytelling tool that can display information that occurs over time in an attractive, easy to follow format.

While there are many tools available to do the trick, one stands out for its power, and that’s ProPublica’s open source TimelineSetter.

The introduction to TimelineSetter reads like this: “TimelineSetter creates beautiful timelines.”

That’s an understatement.

The timelines created by TimelineSetter are sleek, can incorporate rich media like Google Maps and YouTube videos and can be easily modified. Read more

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